Love and Leashes

Love and Leashes Is a Surprisingly Cozy Ride

Dept. of BDSM for Beginners


While the death rattle of “rom-coms are dead!” is constantly being sounded in the West, the genre is very much alive and thriving in South Korea. You just need to be willing to get over that 1-inch barrier. Based off the webtoon Moral Sense, Love and Leashes is Netflix’s latest Korean rom-com offering starring Seohyun and Lee Jun Young, as Jung Ji Woon and Jung Ji Hoon, who now both work in the same PR department of a children’s TV programme. Given their similar sounding names, a mail mix up results in Seohyun finding out about Jun-Young’s secret sexual proclivities: BDSM. 

And guess what? Kinky hijinks ensue.

Let’s get one thing straight, Love and Leashes is by no means as provocative or as racy as it’s title implies. And it doesn’t aim to be. It’s pretty vanilla and it doesn’t seem to be all that bothered to push the envelope into risqué. At its core this is still 100% a Korean rom-com, with all of its usual tropes and trappings. 

Good looking protagonists, check. Slightly zany meet-cute, check. Comedic awkward fumbles, check. Convenient happy ending, check. But even with all of this, Love and Leashes is an enjoyable, and surprisingly cozy ride from start to finish. It also does a much better job at depicting BDSM culture than that godawful piece of Twilight fanfic.

BDSM 101

Love and Leashes

Focusing more on the “Domination” and “Submission” aspect of BDSM, Love and Leashes turns out to be a decent primer on the subject, erring on the side of actually being educational rather than purely scintillating. The movie is quick to highlight the notions of mutual consent and respect early on in the couple’s relationship, laying down rules and protocols in a very matter of fact and straightforward manner.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is still plenty of kink to be had and the visuals are captivating, beautifully and tastefully art directed, and every Lee Jun Young or Seohyun’s fan dream come true. This is a movie that is pretty unapologetic about what it is and absolutely comfortable with that. Which plays right into the message it is hinting at…

Upon learning of Jun Young’s “propensity” towards BDSM play, Seohyun’s first course of action was to find out more, and she seems keen to join him on this journey out of curiosity, the love of a challenge, and of course her interest in Jun Young (this is still a rom-com after all!). This is in contrast with society’s immediate reaction to a lot of what is considered “outside the norm” – rejection. Jun Young struggles with the fear of being found out at the show’s outset and is able to find solace within the acceptance of Seohyun throughout the movie.

Love and Leashes also manages to shine a light on another important aspect of BDSM play – the notion of giving one person your full attention and to be fully present in the moment with that someone. To be able to bask in another’s adoration, to be their sun and moon, should be something one experiences more in life. The movie achieves this very well with the use of dead on camera shots, especially from Jun Young. Which is something that serves both the story and the fans in equal measure.

“Aren’t We All Somewhat Perverted?”

Love and Leashes

Early on in the movie, Seohyun says, ‘Aren’t we all somewhat perverted?’ It’s almost an admonition for the rest of us, that we’re all a little bit weird inside. Works like this one, and even that infamous song from Avenue Q, all hold a kernel of truth. We are all fucked up in our own way. And we could all stand to be a bit more open minded, a bit more kinder, a little bit more present, and a little more curious. 

P.S. If you happen to find that the arena of BDSM, tickling your own proclivities…. Might I suggest a dive into Bonding, also on Netflix. Mistress approves…

We also reviewed Love and Leashes on The Goggler Podcast. Click here to listen.

Love and Leashes is now streaming on Netflix.

Amelia's earliest movie memory is watching Jurassic Park with her dad but having to leave halfway due to a blackout - ah, the 90s. Her favourite TV show is Criminal Minds (it's like a cozy bedtime story) and she hates sitcoms. Since the pandemic, she's been mainlining K-dramas and now stans for Kim Jae Wook and Seo In Guk, so expect some sasaeng level coverage. She's also the resident girl-geek at Geeks in Malaysia. #brieisnotmycarol

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